The amount of alcohol confiscated on beaches skyrocketed this festive season.
The City of Cape Town’s enforcement staff confiscated almost 16 796 bottles of alcohol from beachgoers, a marked increase in the volume of alcohol seized compared with the same period last year, which saw 10 280 bottles confiscated.
Nearly 40% of all confiscations took place in the City’s Area East, which covers beaches between Gordon’s Bay and Monwabisi. Over 6 600 bottles were confiscated from beachgoers in this area.
Beachgoers in Sea Point and the beaches from Hout Bay to Muizenberg had 5 400 bottles confiscated.
Visitors to beaches from Strandfontein to Wolfgat accounted for just over 2 500 bottles.
The possession and consumption of alcohol on beach areas is not allowed and offenders can get a R500 fine, says JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security.
“The rate of alcohol confiscations is simply astounding. It’s no secret that alcohol is not allowed on our beaches and the fact that so many people continue to do it, speaks volumes about their lack of regard for the law and their fellow residents,” he says.
Over a dozen drowning incidents took place on local beaches, compared to only three last year, says Richard Bosman, the City’s executive director of safety and security.
“The number of drowning incidents is extremely disconcerting. To be fair, the beaches have been much busier than usual, but this is not a statistic that sits well with us,” he says.
“We have noticed that people are visiting beaches after hours when lifeguards have left for the day and unfortunately there have also been a number of incidents where bathers have ignored safety warnings and gone swimming in unsafe areas. Drinking on the beaches and unattended minors also played a role,” he says.
Soaring temperatures have seen an increase in the number of beachgoers throughout the season, says Bosman.
“We usually see a massive spike in visitor numbers to the beaches on priority days like the Day of Goodwill and New Year’s Day, but this season the numbers were consistently high because of the hot weather and also the extended holiday weekends.”
Elsewhere, enforcement agencies and other City departments dealt with a raft of events, including New Year’s Eve celebrations, the Newlands cricket test and the Klopse and Cape Malay Choir events.
“I think that many people don’t realise the intensity of the holiday season and the demands placed on staff, infrastructure and other resources. For example, we had to reunite 259 children with their families on a single day – one of whom was separated from his mother for four hours. But we have learnt to deal with issues of this nature and, overall, we coped extremely well under very trying circumstances,” he says.